You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
As we begin our summer season, we may have been making plans for a vacation. We dream about places to visit or arrange special celebrations, family reunions. I pray that in all of these plans, we also keep our attention on God and how our summer activities will flourish His light throughout the earth. Take God with you!
We can take God with us through the one Gift that ‘keeps on giving’, the Gift of the Eucharist. Recently we celebrated the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. This joy-filled celebration brings our focus to the mission begun at Pentecost: to act as Christ did and share His love with the world; to take God with us.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist so that we might intimately be united with God. God wants us to be united to Him by a union so strong and close that we are marked with His features. Through the Eucharist, we build up our spiritual health. The Eucharist fortifies our hearts by the spiritually real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
As Jesus served on earth, His body was a place of action. In His body, Jesus healed, fed, forgave, called and taught. Through Jesus’ body, the people felt God’s love. We too are called to act in a way that all may know that God is with us. As we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, our own bodies become His holy temple through which we are called to be ambassadors conveying God’s message of peace and reconciliation to the world. The Eucharist gives us strength to keep up the effort, just as God’s love is never ending.
God loves us with an unconditional love, not because we deserve it, but rather because He Himself is love. This love is our hope and our salvation. This profound love which we receive in the Eucharist is not a symbol, but calls us into the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ to become what we receive, to become as Christ. If we fully engage in the Mystery, then we bring forth God’s goodness in our daily living. We bring healing into our broken world.
Pope Francis said recently, “The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.”
As we think about vacation, we might also think about how we are living as the Body of Christ. How might our vacation become a pilgrimage toward God? Some of our vacation might be offering charity and sharing through a mission trip or helping an elderly neighbor with some house repairs or visiting the sick. Take an opportunity to visit the Cathedral of the city to which you travel and participate in the celebration of Mass. Participate in days of reflection offered at your parish. Register for an on-line course to learn more about your Catholic faith and social justice. Gather your family in the morning and evening to pray; to draw heaven and earth nearer. As you see street people, open your heart to see Jesus.
This issue of the Florida Catholic reports on the many treasures of the Body of Christ: the profession of vows by religious sisters; a diocesan men’s conference; bottle caps for benches; prayer for unity; the Diaconate Ordination, to name a few.
As we arise and take in each day of this summer season, may we announce the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Bishop John Noonan
Diocese of Orlando